Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Blatantly stolen...

...from The Fucking Bluebird of Goddamn Happiness (

"I admit that I didn't watch this the first time I passed by the link.

But if you are a geek, you totally need to.

EDIT Eep! Spoilery if you still haven't seen the new Star Trek!"

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


What has an afro, a ten-octave vocal range, and is awesome.

Reggie Watts, that's who. We saw this on Good News week, which made me run to the computer and book tickets to see him:

Then I felt glad I had because he did this later:

There's tons more of his stuff on teh YouTubes.

Monday, May 25, 2009


So. We've finished our tasting for our Hunter Valley trip. We visited sixteen wineries over four days (technically five days, but the first day we only went to one). We purchased a total of 7 cases of wine (give or take), plus an extra case for Tanja's mother (who gets a mixed dozen of wines from all over the Hunter, tasted by her personal experts, without having to leave her house, the lucky devil). We've dined at some lovely fancy (and also some lovely proletarian) restaurants and cafes. We tasted cheeses for the first time, coming home with some mixed sheep's-, goat's- and cow's-milk cheeses, and a new cheese knife set.

Some observations:

  • Many of the fancy restaurants have changed their signs to read “Restaurant and Cafe” in order to not seem too intimidating or expensive.
  • Many of the people operating the cellar doors seemed more eager to offer older vintages that weren't on the tasting list if you showed an interest. For example, if they offered a 2008 Semillon and a 2003 Semillon, and you said you preferred the 2003, they would likely pullout a 2001 or 1999 Sem they had under the counter. Tanja and I discussed this and decided it was either A) the financial crisis driving them to push high-end stock, B) that we simply showed taste beyond your average punter and they figured we were in the market for the older, more expensive, higher quality drops, or C) some combination of the two.
  • Several of the wineries (specifically Peterson's Champagne House) seem to be geared towards the bus-loads of women on Hen's Night or Bachelorette trips. They have purple couches to sit on, are pushing their sweetest styles, have pre-mixed cocktail mixes or pink plastic martini shakers for sale, and, in one egregious case, sprayed bubbles from the ceiling. Yech.
  • There were quite a few younger couples on their own like we were, and tons of Canadians and Americans.
  • Lots of high-end cars on the road. At last count, two Ferraris (one vintage, one new), a Maserati, a Ford GT, two Porsches (one Carrera, one SUV), a supercharged and customised Ford F150, and a large number of BMWs and Mercedes (to be expected).
  • Leaving your proper camera at home sucks, but frees you up from dragging it around or bothering your partner by making them wait for you to get a picture.
  • Apart from the Champagne house, we tasted only one sparkling wine, and bought none. Go figure.

Standout wineries were:

  • Keith Tulloch (the only place we bought a full case at)
  • Margan
  • Pigg's Peake
  • Tower Estate

We visited all four of these wineries last trip(a year and a half ago) and bought sparingly. On the flipside, the wineries we bought quite a bit from last time impressed us with only two or three varietals, and sometimes none at all.

So yes! All done with the Hunter for a little while.

Horsing Around

So we thought this trip to the Hunter Valley we would do what every brochure suggests: horseback-riding (far more comfortable than horse-front riding). Tanja had ridden several times before, but my experience was limited. By limited, I might add, I mean that once at the Fredericton Exhibition I was led around in a circle on a pony named Marshmallow. I was 5. So I approached this morning with trepidation.
We, and three other couples (all three women were blonde. Strange) were given our horses and saddled up. Tanja got a grey dapple, and I got a gold/strawberry blonde gelding with, erm, an attitude. Not a bad attitude, per se, but just the sort of manner where he'd decide to stop and then not move. Or slow down and down and down until Tanja's horse behind me was nearly nose-to-tail with mine. Essentially, the horse was trying it on whenever he could, and if he could get away with it? All the better. According to the head rider (who needed to readjust my saddle as my horse had “puffed hisself up when the girth was tightened, then relaxed so youse'll slide around”), this particular horse needed me to keep an eye on him, as he's “cunninger than a shithouse rat, he is”. I dubbed him Smartarse. He did eventually settle down; the head rider gave me a tip to wallop the horse with the reins and “give him a kick in the belly” when he dawdled. After my first tentative attempt, the head rider piped up with “'At's a half-ton 'a horse! You're not gonna hurt 'im! Give 'im a whack!” And I did. And he, contrary to what I thought he would do (buck me over a nearby fence, trample me to death, go to tea), he responded. Go figure.
So Smartarse and I travelled along. Tanja spoke later about how she had to adjust her mind from driving a car to riding on living creature. As I've never driven or rode before, my issue was learning to communicate with Smartarse. Mostly, I spoke to him the way I was speaking to a dog I was trying to cajole. Now, before I come off as the Horse Whisperer, I have no idea if this was having any effect. Essentially, I found horse riding to be similar to sailing or driving a motorboat; you're constantly over-steering and then steering back, always making minor adjustments to keep on a general straight line. How people can do this with just their knees eludes me.
About 45 minutes into the ride, and after Smartarse and negotiated a short trot (we trotted for about 15 seconds, then he stumbled, snorted, slowed down, and returned to a walk, snorting again if I tried to move him faster. Alrighty then) it started to rain. A slight drizzle at first, which didn't bother us. We all had jackets or hoodies on, and the helmets kept off the worst of it. Then it started to pour. And pour. Then the wind picked up. We, and by default, the horses, became quickly drenched from head to toe/hoof. At one point, when the downpour became even heavier, Smartarse turned, against the reins, and put his head towards a nearby fence. I looked up, and without a signal or a sound, all the other horses were pointed the same way, parallel to Smartarse. They had put their, and by default, our, backs to the storm.
While we waited, I had the bright idea to pull up my hood over the helmet. This made sense, bar one fact. A well-woven hood is, in essence, a cup made of fabric. This cup had been hanging down my back during our ride. And it was full. You know the feeling when you're so soaked you can't get any more soaked? Rubbish. There is always more,and colder, soaked to get.
We trekked onwards in the rain, until the head rider called a halt. He said that we were turning back early due to the inclement weather. We had no complaints for the lost 25 minutes or so, as we had all noticed the horses stumbling, snorting, and generally feeling miserable. So back we went.
My one near fall came on the dismount, when a slippery stirrup had me scrambling for a second, but that was the closest I came. Tanja and I hopped into the non-alive vehicle we had brought, drove home with the heater on (the rain had of course, stopped at this point). We arrived back at the cottage, left the doors open to air out the soaked seats, and went inside to a hot bath*. Afterwards, we got dressed in dry clothes and went for lunch about as relaxed as we'd ever been. So good day.
*Said bath was briefly interrupted when we heard the ran start again. Say what you want for gender politics and chivalry in a post-feminist world, it was yours truly who had to throw on a towel, run out into the rain, slam he car doors and run back inside. Sir Walter bloody Raleigh, I am.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


I got quite a bit of reading done today.

We headed up to Tanja's folks' place for Mother's Day. Since CityRail bosses seemingly do not have mothers, they scheduled trackwork from Blacktown up to the mountains. I, imagining a long trip, grabbed several digest-sized books from Oni Press that I had purchased in a 50% off sale at Kinokuniya. Later, after gorging myself on steak, cheese, potatoes, bread, crackers, wine, beer, and cake (and then unceremoniously falling asleep in a recliner), I got to read again on the way back. Then, once home, I went back to the sale-pile and read some more. This is what I read:

Hopeless Savage, Vol 2: Ground Zero (By Jen Van Meter & Bryan Lee O'Malley, with 3 other artists helping out)
A really fun and well-written story of a child of two rock stars, her interactions with her family, her friends, the trash newsmedia, and a guy at school. Very sharp and funny (though I was glad the use of made-up slang mostly dropped away after the first few chapters), and using a lot of the teen romance tropes while subverting them at the same time. Like in my other favourite book, Scott Pilgrim, O'Malley's simple art and fantastic facial expressions tell so much with just a few lines. One thing I want to comment on in this book was the strong relationship Zero (the main girl) has with her siblings. It's so nice to see a family of siblings that seemed to genuinely like one another, help one another out, and are supportive. The only disfunctional family relationship is Zero and her mother, and that's treated as an odd occurance. As someone who's read about the Weasleys in the Harry Potter books and the Stantons in the Dark Is Rising Series, I'm wholeheartedly sick of large families that seemingly destroy each other's lives on a day to day basis, only to band together in the end. I don't know, I just don't seem to have patience for that. Fred and George Weasley, for example, drove me mental in the Potter books. But back to Zero's story. Something else interesting is that flashbacks, television and chapter breaks are done by the guest artists, providing a clear shift from the day-to-day lives/art-style. Very cool, and I want the 1st and 3rd volumes now.

Moped Army, vol 1 (By Paul Sizer)
This book makes me a) want to get a moped, and b) make a tshirt/get a patch for my backpack and show Moped Army solidarity. Rich girl forsakes life in upscale super-suburban futuristic city to hang out with the nicest biker gang on the planet. These aren't your Bandidos, though. They're essentially nerds and outsiders of various stripes, a "survivor clique", as coined by one of the characters: punks, hackers, hippies, gearheads, (there's a girl named Chu Toi, pronounced Chew Toy, but she'll freakin' end you if you comment) riding kitbashed mopeds and trying to cobble together a sense of community in a world that's mostly forgotten them. I REALLY liked this. That t-shirt might be in the making soon.They own the skies, but we own the streets!

One Bad Day
Zero character development, flying-by-the-seat-of-your-butt-because-you've-lost-your-pants storyingtelling. It's pretty much a Run-Lola-Run-style action movie in comic book form. Girl sees old acquaintance. Old acquaintance. is hit by car. Girl suddenly being chased. People get hurt. Things get scary. Bad birthday parties are attended. Riveting stuff.

Clockwork Angels: Texas Steampunk Vol. 2
And the big disappointment of the day... I just can't get into manga art. It's the comic-book equivalent of the Wii controller.There are people who adore it and worship it, but if you can't get past the controls, you won't dig the games. I couldn't get past the art style, so found myself unable to pay attention to the story. Everyone looks alike,speech bubble don't point to the right characters, they seem to say things out of the blue and without reason, like an avant-garde French film. And I was really looking forward to this! I love steampunk, and the story that combined mysticism, parlour magic, intrigue and mystery seemed really cool. Too bad I only made it about 15 pages in.

So yeah. Books, huh?

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Breakfast (by Caketown)

  • Baked lemon tart with apple jelly & chocolate edging.
  • Caramel tart (with chocolate shavings)
  • Chocolate & pistachio scroll
  • something called a "Thumb" (dark chocolate tube filled with custard and cream, topped with a profiterole dipped in toffee)
  • Some of Ashley's chocolate-chip-and-macadamia cookies.
Sugar rush now.

Sunday, May 03, 2009


Well, as an antidote to the generally negative tone of my last few posts, and in response to some lovely things Dooga said on his blog, here's somethig more positive.

Thanks to the generosity of people I work with, I ended up with a free ticket to Adam Hills' stand-up show at the Enmore theatre. I jumped at the chance, as I ove his work of Spicks & Specks and his DVDs. Well, apart from making me laugh so hard I nearly passed out (literally. I couldn't breathe), he had this classic Dad-Joke to share:
"There was an inflatable boy, who went to an inflatable school, with inflatable freinds and an inflatable principle. One day, he brought a pin to school as a joke. He got into trouble, though, and was brought to the principle's office. The principle said 'You're in big trouble. You've let your school down, you've let your friends down, you've let yourself down and you've let me down!'"


Adam used this as a jumping-off point into a discussion with his imaginary son (he was positing what sort of wisdom he could pass on, were he to have a child apart from the definition of optimism being "sitting in a Nissan Micra, where the speedometer goes to 240"). I'll try to remember it as best as I can:

"Well, son, maybe... maybe we're all inflatable. And we have the power to inflate and deflate each other. And if you say something nice to someone, they inflate, like this *stands up straight*, and if you're not nice, they deflate, like this *slouches down*. And if at te end of your life you can figure that if you've inflated more people then you've deflated, then I guess you've had a pretty good life."

He then went on to speak about a friend of his who had died in the past year and how she was a real inflator, and how as her trademark, she always wore bunny ears to the Edinborough Fringe festival. She had died at 31 and the next year, all of her friend had gathered at the Festival to mourn and to celebrate her life, and without arranging it beforehand, they had all brought bunny ears. He said that talking about her was sad, but it was happy too. In the early hours of the morning, weary and heavy hearted, he had walked back to his hotel, head down, feeling very deflated. Then he started noticing that people passing him were smiling, large and openly, and it was only after the fifth person that he realised that he was still wearing the bunny ears from the party. He sat down, and he laughed, and he realised that even 9 months after she had left the earth, she still had the power to inflate him and the people around him.

I thought that was lovely.

Gossip guy.

In all the jobs I've worked at, I've never been the one people tell things to. The only time I actually get to hear things about someone is long after they've left the company. Then it's “Oh, you didn't know so-and-so was sleeping with what's-his-face? Everyone knows that.” Well, I didn't. And I get frustrated and feel deceived and lied to, even if the person wasn't a friend, just someone I might nod to on a daily basis. I know it's ridiculous; if I barely know the person, why would they share that with me? But nevertheless, I feel like I had the wool pulled over my eyes and stayed blissfully unaware. Tanja posits that it's because I'm different, being in a committed relationship,and therefore not as approachable as some of my single colleagues.
I feel similarly insecure about a few of my work relationships. I get along with certain people, but when left alone near them at a work function or meeting, I can barely think of anything to say. My first thought is “Wow, I really don't know this person at all.” I felt that way when I was a CSR, but I just figured it was because I was new and not too well-known. Now I'm a Team Leader and it happens just as often. Worse, I hear how some people talk about others they dislike, but then act nice to their faces. Does they talk about me that way? Then on the odd occasion I get a burst of negativity from someone, it's the nail in the coffin, the confirmation of what I suspected.
I know all of this is ridiculous and how I can't control any of it and should just not worry, but I do. An unfortunate side effect of all this insecurity is that I improvise, overreact, and act almost obnoxious. And then worry about coming off as obnoxious.